The Mist Season 1 Episode 5 Review – ‘The Waiting Room’

Martin Carr reviews the fifth episode of The Mist…

As the tagline suggests this is an episode of contemplation, revelation and character building. Incorporating flashbacks, two-handed dialogue scenes and minimal supernatural bravado The Mist focuses on keeping it simple. Playing to a strength which is inherent in smaller scale television shows, it thrives on drip feeding the audience, sustaining tension and allowing little respite. Key to this remains the ensemble cast who play off each other without feeling a need to grandstand.

 

Like every Stephen King novel, short story or vignette his wheelhouse remains the slow build, slow burn natural construction of story through character. This small town feels lived in, these people each in possession of a chequered history with secrets to uncover. That is why his work remains amongst the most adapted in cinematic history direct from novelisation. Whether we are gifted brief snippets of brotherly love to counterpoint an existing rift, or sexual awakenings subtlety explored in quieter moments, The Mist continues balancing pace and action perfectly.

As for the show this separation of people follows a less is more policy in which the audience is kept guessing. Psychological overtones manifest themselves as situations escalate. Not only do we get insecurities being drawn out from seemingly conventional characters, but this pressure cooker pot boiler is not slow in administering retribution. What the Weinstein brothers have done here is back a solid premise and deliver on King’s original ideas without compromise.

Recently there have been adaptations of his work which fell short of the novels that inspired them, giving us mediocrity and disappointment. During an age of premium quality television with streaming services muscling in, backing an unknown quantity and taking risks is not only the norm but expected. Freed from terrestrial watershed restrictions shows can be bolder, more experimental and truer to their source material. Close up surgery with lashings of claret, staple guns and man-eating pond life are now fair game. People have become numb to graphic imagery, meaning films can push beyond what was acceptable ten years ago. What The Mist has proven is that King can be successfully adapted without losing relevance or resorting to huge budgets.

 

As you spend some time in ‘The Waiting Room’ look beyond that dense mist for a moment. Disregard any special effects which might attempt to distract and enjoy this series for what it is; namely a rough diamond that gets refined week on week. Who knows it might even encourage people to go out and read a book, because after all Kindles might be great but paper and print or pen and ink beat them hands down.